The Langres cheese: Introduction
Similar to the Epoisses and Munster cheeses, and produced by small dairies, the Langres cheese is the speciality made from Champagne and humidity. Its name comes from the principle town which commercialised the cheese, in the department of Haute-Marne. The Langres cheese is characterised by its truncated shape, with a depression in the centre. It has a diameter of 10cm, a thickness of between 5 and 6cm and a weight of 250 to 300 grams.
The Langres cheese is matured for between 2 and 3 months in a humid cheese cellar where it is periodically washed.
Exterior appearance of the Langres cheese: fine, glossy rind of a red-brick to light brown colour
Odour of the Langres cheese: strong
Texture of the Langres cheese: smooth and firm
Taste of the Langres cheese: pronounced.
History of the Langres cheese
The Langres cheese started to speak for itself in the middle of the 18th Century, it was featured in a song composed by the prior of the Dominicans of Langres. A century later, a work specialising in the production of cheese cited the “cheese of Langres.” It existed alongside other great cheeses such as the Maroilles and the Livarot. At this time, it was fabricated essentially by farms and destined for consumption by the families of the farms. However it was occasionally sold at the local market.
As it went along, winning over the palate of many, the Langres cheese became the object of a flourishing market. Traders of Langres bought the cheese fresh from the farmers and matured it themselves, then exported it to Paris and as far away as Geneva. At the time of its creation, the Langres was fabricated simply. The rennet was added to the milk to treat it when it was still tepid, and then the mixture made to curdle in stoneware pots. Once curdled, the cheese was formed and drained in terra cotta moulds where they formed a truncated shape; this is where their characteristic shape comes from.
The cheeses were then taken out of the moulds and left to dry on plane tree leaves in wicker cages which could contain several Langres cheeses. During the maturing process, done in stoneware pots, the composition of the Langres changed and developed (the cheese was never turned) and the colours became apparent.
The Langres cheese obtained the Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) (the designation of controlled origin) in May 1991. This official sign of quality guarantees that the cheese is produced using an ancestral, savoir-faire specification and is made in a specific, controlled area.
The naming of the cheese, its area of production, its maturing process and its conditions of production are all regulated by the specifications which were revised and approved by the INAO (Institut National des Appellations d’Origine; National Institute of the Designations of Origin) in 2008.